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April 28, 2017

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Hodgson plans to give Rooney a chance to improve sharpness

MIAMI, Florida -- England manager Roy Hodgson will give Wayne Rooney another chance to improve his match-sharpness with a start in Wednesday's friendly against Ecuador.

And the former Liverpool boss is set to try-out Manchester City midfielder James Milner at right-back.

Rooney's form has been a talking point in England but Hodgson said the decision not to rest him, unlike several other starters from Friday's 3-0 win over Peru, was mainly about getting him up to match-preparation.

"The thinking behind Wayne starting a second game is quite simple. He only played 60 minutes the other day, he didn't play many games before he came to join us, we think that he is recovering his match fitness and we think starting the game and playing a part of the game will be to his advantage.

"We will see how long he plays and that will be based on how his fitness is progressing," he said.

Much of the debate around Rooney has focused on whether he should be used as an out-and-out striker, in a withdrawn role or out wide, but Hodgson said he was simply pleased to have those options.

"Wayne is a very useful player in that you don't have to pin him down and say this is the only position that he can play. We have seen him play center-forward, we have seen him play behind the center-forward and we have seen him play wide. If he has done all of those things at the very top level for Manchester United there is no reason why I can't use him in those positions as well," he said.

"There is a real obsession with Wayne which I don't necessarily share. As far as I am concerned I have got Wayne Rooney here as one of 23 players, I am very happy to have him here as one of 23 players but I don't have to share the obsession that he has to play here, or has to do that."

Milner, who normally operates in midfield for Manchester City, will be given a chance to show if he is a viable alternative to Liverpool's Glen Johnson.

Midfielder Frank Lampard, who will skipper the side on Wednesday, said he was glad there was now debate over how to squeeze England's talented young options into a starting eleven.

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